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UK Coaching Team
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Developing Mindsets

Understanding the Role of Identity in Sport

In the first resource in this mini-series, Sport Psychologist Rebecca Chidley and UK Coaching’s Chris Chapman explore the importance of identity for people participating in sport throughout their life course

Throughout the world of sport, individuals of all ages commit a huge amount of time and energy to developing skills, achieving desired outcomes, and reaching the next level of their respective sport(s). As coaches and support staff, we should be aware of the impact that this may have on an individual’s identity and identity development.

This series will explain the role of identity in sport throughout the lifespan and identify concepts to consider that have an impact for you and/or the people you coach.

Self-identity and athletic identity

Self-identity is shaped and comprises of the goals, values, and beliefs which the person thinks are personally important and are committed to.

When considered in a sporting context, it is the degree to which an individual as an athlete identifies with the athlete role.

If we consider our goals, values and beliefs, we may find that they are all heavily influenced by sport and being an athlete, especially if we are participating and competing on a regular basis with few other activities in our lives.

The commitment of an individual’s identity to the sporting role without exploration of alternatives indicates a state of identity acceptance.

If this occurs, then some individuals can have an ‘exclusive’ identity and derive their self-identity exclusively from the athlete role (this can be similar for you as a coach who sees their value and worth through your sport success as a coach).

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UK Coaching Team